It won’t let me…

As a geek, I often get to help others with computer problems. I try really hard to have a good attitude about it, but there are some phrases that I am tired of hearing. All of these phrases mean nothing. There must be more information you can provide.

“I can’t get into …”

Why can’t you? Are your fingers broken? What happens when you try?

“I keep getting an error message when I …”

What does the error message say? (The usual response is, “I don’t know. Something about … or something.”) In the old days of Windows 95, error messages were pretty useless. Nowadays most geeks can make sense of them and can often solve your problem quicker if you provide the exact error message.

My favorite non-descriptive phrase has to be, “It won’t let me…”

We’ll have to assume that “it” is the computer you’re using. Then again, “it” could be a website or some other type of system. Maybe “it” is a piece of hardware. Either way, this really doesn’t help. Once again, you really should provide more information about the problem. Most it’s don’t have a personal grudge against you.

Here is a helpful way to report a computer problem:

“I’m having a problem with [something descriptive]. When I do [describe what you were doing], my computer responds with [provide the actual error message].”

Or, replace the last part with something like:

“my computer locks up.” (or shuts off–there is a difference)

Or,

“my screen returns to the previous screen.” (not, “it kicks me out.”)

It’s all about the inputs and outputs for a geek. We want to know exactly what your INPUT was and the resulting OUTPUT. Otherwise you’re just not helping yourself. A geek will have to ask more questions to find out what you are talking about. Many geeks aren’t likely to ask those questions, so where does that leave you?

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Writers–you’re killing yourselves.

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the writer strike and how nobody has died from not watching new TV. Guess what. As far as I can tell, still nobody has died. Life goes on without TV.

In the long run, the strike may change the face of Hollywood forever…and not as intended by the writers.

Seth Godin recently wrote about lessons learned from the demise of the music industry. The music industry is evolving. Big, over-produced stars are being replaced with smaller niche artists. More variety is going to push the industry out of creative stagnation. The music industry is not alone.

The writer strike is forcing the TV audience to look elsewhere for entertainment. On the one hand, the studio executives will feel the crunch–exactly the hope of the writers. On the other hand, who is to say the audience will flock back to their couches once the strike is over? The longer the strike, the more difficult it will be to bring the viewers back. Writers will have lost their audience just like everyone else who is part of the production. Americans will always enjoy TV, but we just might find we like other things, too.

(On a side note, I find it interesting that while “on strike” many writers continue to receive residual royalties for past productions…along with the studio execs and the actors. Sure, it isn’t as much as they’d like, but it is a lot more than everyone else involved on a production is receiving now. I’m glad my career as an audio editor didn’t take me into the TV industry. Selfish writers would’ve put me and my family out on the streets.)

The Golden Globe awards have been canceled because the actors support the writers in their endeavor. A spokesperson for the awards commented on the radio this morning, “It is too bad. It is usually a great opportunity for fans to celebrate the accomplishments of their favorite actors.”

Actually, it is great that the show won’t be on. Actor accomplishments are not something to celebrate. It is entertainment. I like it. You probably like it, too. But why do we need to give them awards while the whole world watches?

It is time to find something else to do. Personally, I’ve enjoyed watching less TV. I’ve been able to finish freelance projects quicker, I’ve spent more time practicing the piano and guitar, and I’ve spent more time teasing Daphne. I have been known to watch The Amazing Race and plenty of cooking shows, but there are plenty of other ways to enjoy life without the burden of TV.